Back in the bucket seat

With the track set to close for 3 weeks straight, and me with my insatiable lust for all things gokarting lately, Mr X and I decided to forgo working on the house on Sunday and hit the track. 

I’m not sure what it is exactly that I’m so obsessed about gokarting lately and I want to go all the time. Maybe it’s the challenge of improving my lap times or maybe it’s the learning something new each time I go out. Anyway I’m just loving donning on my race suit and helmet and jumping in my kart and driving around the track. I’m just loving how my kart will effortlessly turn the corners with a slight turning of my steering wheel. I’m just loving how my eyes are adjusting to the landscape as I get faster and faster down the straights.

So I was all kinds of excited to learn that we were gokarting two Sunday’s in a row, even if my body was caning from the last week in my kart. I have this habit of hugging my fuel tank with my calf muscles when slipping around the corners but this is not an unusual trait as the BF does the same. However it leaves my legs aching for a couple of days afterward, not to mention my fingers and arms from clinging to the wheel. It’s a good work out and my body is slowly adjusting to it but as I get faster, new pains are arising so it’s a vicious cycle right now.

“Looks like I won’t be practicing in my kart on Sunday. My clutch plate is broken and I don’t think I’ll be able to get another in time.”

Last weekend, and on our last practice, the chain guard bolt snapped on Mr X’s gokart causing the bracket to fall into the chain and thus FUBAR-ing the chain and sprocket so Mr X decided to spend some time fixing and cleaning up his kart during the week to get it ready for our practice session for the upcoming Sunday. Unfortunately it was when he was pulling the motor apart that this discovery was made. 

“Can you ring that guy in town and see if he has one?”

Which he tried but no one answered.

“It’s okay my love. I’ll be pit crew for you and Master Z. Get your karts set up right.”

Unfortunately come Sunday morning and the kid bailed on our karting adventure in lieu of potentially spending time with his GF so it was just me then. It seemed like a lot of effort for just one karter and I expressed as much.

“It’s okay sweetie. I’ve got that work I need to do at the track anyway so I’ll get that done between your practices. You need the seat time!”
 
 
It was a fairly windy and overcast at the track when we arrived which normally I’d love because wearing a race suit all day can get quite hot but I was nervous about it potentially raining and ruining my lap times. Three weeks is a long time between practicing and I wanted to make the most of it.

“Looks like we are going the other way around the track so that will be interesting. Haven’t done that for awhile.”

Normally when we show up at the club the track was set up for anti-clockwise direction and we’d just go with it. We probably should be practicing both ways but Mr X was more interested in figuring out our kart setups first. I guess now was as good as time as any to go the other way.

“You’ll be okay. It’s a pretty cool day too so I might put the 20mm spaces in your front end.

There was only one other karter when we arrived at the track which made me a little anxious. I’m still 5-6 seconds slower than most people, more if they are light and running the new KA motors and I hate being embarrassingly slower than them. However my need to improve outweighed my fear of what people thought so once our camp was set up and I’d put on my race suit, helmet and gloves, I headed out onto the track.

The first corner I took okay, it was a tight S bend but when I was coming into the second it felt like the front end was biting too early and I nearly lost it. I figured the tyres were just cold so I persisted and kept going around the track but my next prob was I forgot where my apexes were so my lap times were all over the place. After 5 laps, and a couple of spin outs, I pulled into the pits.

“I think I need to go back to the 15mm spaces. It feels like the front end is biting too soon.”

So Mr X changed my spaces and once it was my turn I headed back onto the track. This time I had a better idea of my apexes so I took the first lap a little slower, waiting for my tyres to heat up but once I felt they were sticky I was off! 

Keep going, keep going. Don’t brake until you reach the witches hat. Brake! Turn! Accelerate out of the corner!

And the gokart slid around the turn and I was off again, heading for the next corner. 

Foot off accelerator, go wide here and turn! Wait until your exiting and foot back on the accelerator!

It was uncomfortable going around the track in a different direction at first but since I was comfortable with my gokart set up (instinctively knew how much to turn the wheel to get around corners because I knew how much it bit) I didn’t mind pushing myself to learn something new. My lap times were a bit sloppy at first as I learnt my way around but once I figured out my best path I got down to my mid range 48 second times. I was estatic!

“That was so much better and so much fun! I got back to 48’s again but I need more fuel and then I’m going back out again!”

So Mr X pushed my gokart back to our trailer and fueled her up for me whilst I checked my kart over, making sure nothing has come loose. There was another karter on the track, a cadet, so I had to wait my turn but before too long I was out there again, hugging my fuel tank as I slid around the corners.  I’m not sure why but going this way around the track made me slip around in my seat more.

Regardless, I was starting to get the hang of the track and I was learning to enjoy this direction. For instance the 6 metre corner was much easier to navigate in this direction, as well as the S bend. However the other long corner was much more difficult due to the corrogation on the bitumen, causing my foot to bounce a little on the accelerator, and it took me a fair few laps to get the hang of keeping my foot steady on the peddle.

“I think that about does it for me for the day my love. I’m exhausted and my arms are killing me. Do you think I’m getting better?”

“Of course you are. I’m wrapped with how well you are doing.”

“Yeah so am I. Thank you for setting up my kart for me. It’s only cause you’ve learnt so much that I’ve improved.”

“That’s ok. I enjoy doing it.”

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Return of the Gokarter

After a long hiatus from gokarting I hit the BF up to take me out to the track again. It had been months since I’d been in my kart and thus the drivers seat and I think I was losing a little interest in the sport. We asked Master Z if he wanted to come along too but he declined under the grounds he wanted to hang with his girlfriend instead so Mr X and I headed to the track on our own. 

I think my idea was to spend a couple of hours there and come home and do my housework but I truly forgot how this motorsport can suck you in. I could have totally spent the entire weekend there and been happy about it. That’s how I roll these days.
 
“So I made some changes to your kart. I’ve put  the newer type tyres on it and have widen the rear end a little. Let’s see how you go.”

Mr X has been really keen to get me back into the sport because he knows I’ve been struggling to get faster around the corners. The idea is to get the outside wheels on the kart to lift so whenever you manouveour around a corner it turns effortlessly and you don’t lose speed/momentum. However to get the kart to do this you need to figure out the right gokart setup which differs on the size/weight of the driver. So I’m learning how to tell Mr X what’s happening when I drive the kart and he’s learning what to change to the setup. 

So after donning on the race gear and jumping into the drivers seat, Mr X started my kart and off I went. 

On previous runs at the track, on my old tyres, I’d turn the wheel into a corner only for the rear end to bite and get almost spun around so I’d have to quickly correct by turning the steering wheel the other way so I was quite surprised after a couple of laps on the newer tyres I had no probs whatsoever with getting my kart around with a only a little bit of turning of the wheel. Of course I wasn’t taking them quite as fast as Mr X but it was definitely faster than what I’d normally take them and by gosh that made me happy. Finally I was feeling like I was getting somewhere with my kart!

“So those tyres are really great. I can’t believe how quick they get hot!”

Mr X laughed as he walked around my kart, checking it out, running his hands over the tyres and noting their condition.

“Looks like they are wearing really good too sweetie. It’s funny because I took these tyres off my kart and they were chewed out a bit but I put them on your kart and they’re wearing perfectly.”
 

“Really? So looks like my alignments are all good then?”

“Yeah but I still think you need to get more lift when you get around the corners, I might widen your track a little more and see what you think.”

So that’s what he did and once my kart was ready I headed back out into the track and threw it into the first corner, once cleared I planted my foot down the straight and touched the brake just before I came into the next corner and planted my foot down again once I was free of that corner. The kart was definitely sticking really well to the track, just like the previous run but far better than our previous practice sessions. However I still didn’t feel like I could trust it to go faster into the corners as the kart kept pushing out when I accidentally tried a couple of times. 

Regardless, I was quite happy with how it was setup as it was helping me build my confidence and I was content with working on getting closer into the corner before taking my foot off the accelerator and turning. Something I didn’t feel comfortable with doing on my old tyres.

“Did you want me to make some more changes to your kart? To get it to flex more?”

“Nah. I’m beat my love. I think I’ll do another few laps and that will be enough for me today.”

But the bug had bitten me so two weeks later we were back at the track, unloading the karts and getting ready to practice.  I decided I wanted to try to get some more flex out of the kart so Mr X made the necessary adjustments to the rear end and I headed out onto the track to try it out.

It took me a couple of laps though to trust the kart because it rattled a lot more than I remembered, which is normal if you remove bolts that previously had stiffened it up but once I took that first turn at a high speed and the kart swung effortlessly around it like it was on rails, I was hooked!

So this is what it should feel like, this is what it’s all about I cheered in my head as I took another  corner and felt the kart corner effortlessly around it. Of course I still had to hang pretty tight to the wheel because there’s no such thing as power steering but I was getting used to the workout to my arms and it felt good to work those muscles.

I think I did more laps than I ever done before because I got so hooked on the drive and getting my laps time down. I’d hadn’t used the Alfano in my kart before so it was interesting to see how long it took me to complete a lap and whether I could get better a better time on the next lap. When I could feel myself getting slower I finally pulled into the pits and Mr X joined me not long after.

“Did you see me!? Did you see my kart flexing?! Now I finally get it and that was fun!”

Mr X laughed, giving me a tight hug and then  checked the Alfano. He raised his eyebrow a little when he flicked through my times.

“I’m glad you had a good time and I’m pleased with your lap times. Your definitely getting better. Well done.”

And now Im definitely looking forward to our next practice session. 

Old is new again

I forgot to mention it but we did finish refurbing that chair of mine and it actually turned out rather nice. 

I was kinda unsure whether the print I chose for the cushion would look okay against the copper coloured frame but now the chair is back together and in use I definitely love the overall look. Mr X on the other hand was not overly impressed with my fabric choice, or at least that’s the impression I received when I asked him about it. Not that it matters. I’m the one sitting on it after all.
 
“Its a bunch of stags. Your butt will be sitting on a bunch of stags.”
 
I rolled my eyes at Mr X then ran my fingers over the cushion admiring the black stencil stag print against the off white background. I had loved the look of the pattern when I first spied it at the local haberdashery and my fondness for it still had not waned a few weeks on.
 
“So you don’t like it I take it?” I asked, not really wanting an answer but asking anyway. Mr X shrugged but before he could speak I got in first.

“Never mind, I think it looks quite fetching and matches the copper perfectly. And besides Stags are a majestic animal so my butt, as you so put it, will be sitting on something majestic. Just saying. ”

 
Although Mr X likes to mock me about my furniture choices he actually doesn’t really care how I furnish our home. I bought this round storage table for the bathroom so I can hide stuff like the extra toilet paper rolls and spray and I purchased my plant and this trendy wire pot plant stand for that and Mr X just shrugged his shoulders at it all.

I guess it’s easy to like my palette because it is so neutral and very minimalistic but I still like Mr X to have an input into our home as well so I think about what compliments his favourite furniture, such as these two antique sideboards with their lead light glass doors, which will look pretty against either a soft grey or bright white wall with some grey carpet on the floor. 

“Now I best finish that desk of yours before you decide you want that painted as well huh.”

Which I don’t, FYI. But he doesn’t need to know that. 

Plan B

As another year ended and a new one began my thoughts turned to my studies and which subject I should sign up for next. 

Last year I thought I’d sign up for two,  Engineering Statistics and Mechanical Analysis, because I was ready to take on the extra work load both physically and mentally, but then Mr X’s work place decided to down size their work force (he kept his job but many others didn’t) and then our dog got cancerous tumours removed (and she has to go back because theyre not happy with the margin they got on one of the three) and after that I kinda thought less about completing extra subjects and more about securing work for Mr X in the event things went South. I know I could manage the bills in a worse case scenario but I’d rather not do so for too long. We both like our spare cash and it keeps for a happy relationship if we have some.

“Hey, I know we’ve discussed it before but I really think you should get your electrical license. Not so much to bring in extra money but just encase your job ever gets made redundant.”

Even when my body lays dormat my mind is always switched on, thinking and planning, planning and thinking. The boyfriend knows when I’m doing as much and often reads my face before I announce my thoughts aloud. It’s pretty cool how he does that. I guess he really does know me.

“I’ve been thinking about it as well actually and asking my boss about what’s involved in getting your license. He focuses mostly on installing aircon’s and whatnot but I think I’d like to concentrate on industrial work if I was to work for myself. Much more interesting then commercial stuff. Worth more money.”

As Mr X spoke I couldn’t help but do a little happy step/jump and grin at him adoringly. Just when I think I’m the only one whose thinking ahead about our future, out of his mouth pops this.

“Well I’ll help you pay for it and I’ll do all the books for the business when you need me to. ” 

My words made Mr X smile and he reached around me and hugged me tight. I’m fairly generous when it comes to this man but that is what girlfriends do and besides, he is definitely worth it.

“Ok, it’s settled then. Plan B.”

Mr X could only grin at me in reply.

Dream a little dream

After receiving my overall grade for my Maths course and realising I would not need to repeat any of it, an enormous sense of relief swept over me. If I had of failed that exam and been given a chance to resit it (yep, not everyone gets that option), I would have been doing so a week before Christmas which in my opinion would of sucked. Not to mention resitting an exam again and dealing with exam nerves again. Double suck. Thank heck that’s not happening. Now I get to pass go and collect two hundred dollars. Or something like that.

“I passed, I passed!”

I yelled, bounding out of bed at 4:30 in the morning, surprising Mr X in the kitchen, making his lunch.

“Well done my sweet. I know you’ve been feeling anxious about it.” Kissing me on the forehead, hugging me tight.

“I actually thought it was wishful thinking because I dreamt looking up my results and finding out I’d passed, that’s why I’m awake, but then I checked the Uni website to find it actually happened, amazing huh?!”

This is not the first time I’ve had true dreams like this but it’s been awhile since it’s happened. I have no idea how or why but it sure is super cool when it has a positive ending like this instead of dreaming a guy has cheated on you and finding out its true.

“See, you had nothing to worry about after all. All that worry for nothing.”

“Oh I certainly did because I know I flubbed it but lately I’ve been feeling a tiny bit hopeful about the exam and then I just felt like I’d be okay after all. And thank heck too because now I don’t have to resit that exam! Hell yeah!”

Christmas in July

Despite not wanting to spend any money over the weekend I convinced Mr X that we just had to check out this Secondhand store I’d seen on FB. I think it came up in my timeline because someone else liked their page to begin with but after browsing their page for twenty minutes, and discovering old wooden cupboards, duchesses, desks and tables my interest and Mr X’s was definitely perked.

One of the things you probably should know about me is my dad was a Carpenter and therefore I grew up in a home filled with old furniture that he restored in his spare time. Of course back then I never appreciated them but after I moved out of home and my dad passed I’d often find myself staring wistfully at any vintage furniture I’d come across but often I’d miss out on getting it because of sellers ridiculous prices.

So come Saturday we headed into the city and to the secondhand store and between its opening time and my lesson start I had a window of like ten minutes to browse the place. It was insane. Not only were the pieces well priced but the collection was amazing. I was kinda gobsmacked that all this stuff hadn’t been sold yet. I think I just got past the doorway when Mr X recognised the guy behind the counter as one of the guys he knows at work. Apparently it was his wife’s store. So random. Anyways after a brief chat there he left us to look around and my heart skipped a beat when Mr X pointed out an old wooden writing desk, the type that looks like a cupboard but then the top door folds down to a flat surface with small shelves inside. It was gorgeous and I loved it’s simplicity. It was only $115. A good price in my opinion.

Since time was short though I kept moving along, admiring things along the way and Mr X must of got a little ahead of me because the next thing I knew he was eyeing off an old sewing machine plus table. It was lovely but definitely needed a lot of work and Mr X started practically drooling over the thing, stating how long he’s been looking for one. The way he carried on you’d think he was a professional seamstress where is I kept looking at it from a practical viewpoint such as where would we put it and what else could we use it for?  I don’t think I’ve mentioned before that we already have three vintage Singer sewing machines (no tables though) that need attention so getting another one wouldn’t be exactly sensible. However I didn’t outright say no either and left the ball in his court.

Anyways, not long after that I headed off to my tutoring lesson and became immersed in long division algebra. Out of all the things I’ve learnt so far in Maths that one kinda threw me and I needed some guidance on it. We also spoke about transposing formulas which is easy until you get complicated formulas. It took me awhile but by the end of the lesson I had gotten my head around it and had practically forgotten about the little window shopping expedition. Well that was until I met up with Mr X to get some groceries that is.

“I didn’t buy anything!”

I had just exited my car and wandered over to Mr X and his 4WD, when he suddenly raised his arms, blocking my view of whatever was in the tray back.

“You bought that sewing table, didn’t you?” I answered with a resigned sigh.

“No.” Shaking his head keeping his arms raised.

“Uh huh. So what’s in the back?”

“Take a look.”

So I did and low and behold it was the writing desk. 

“You bought it?!”

Mr X smiled and shrugged his shoulders a little.

“Well, yeah. I saw how much your eyes lit up when you saw it and I know you’ve always wanted one…”

Both true statements but even so I was surprised he chose it over the sewing table and so I just had to do a little happy dance on the spot.

“I also knocked $15 off the price so yeah.”

“You bought me a writing desk! You bought me a writing desk!”

Damn I love that man.

Racer grrl

After the last go karting race meet I had been mulling over my reasonings for not participating. I’m still not fast enough, It’s extra work, how will I start my kart if they put us (Mr X and I) in the same group of races and then I started to remember how it felt when I wasn’t one of the people getting out there at the race meets and how much I missed being behind the wheel. I think that’s what did me in the end, the whole missing out feeling and the craving to drive so I told Mr X if my crash bar turned up before the next race meet then I’d enter. I think he was surprised as me when I said that.

“I hope they don’t put us in the same group of racers. How will I get my kart started?”

After arriving at the track, unpacking the trailer, paying our nomination fees and setting up our site my attention turned to other pit bays and the people inside of them. There were a number of experienced racers in the mist and a few P platers like myself. I noticed the girl from the last meet had returned which made me feel a little better but overall I was feeling sick and heaps nervous. Even the promise of a can of redbull couldn’t distract me. Good thing there was heaps to do anyway so I didn’t have time to think too long.

“Damnit. I’ve just been talking to the racing steward and apparently they never received my flag questionnaire when you sent them yours last year so before I go out I need to fill this in.”

After borrowing one of the rule books from another racer, Mr X sat down with me to help me work through the questions. My brain was already fried from nerves and rushing around getting stuff ready so I seriously had trouble remembering information at this point. Good thing I didn’t have any of the race officials hover over my shoulder. Once I finished the questionnaire and handed it in Mr X and I were thrown out with a group of racers to practice. It was hard. 

For one my kart felt very floaty around the long corners and two, I couldn’t seem to trust my kart would drift around the corners so I was going much slower than the other drivers. One thing going for me however was my brain being silent and not worrying about shit that could happen. Even when my kart felt like it was going to drift off the track I instantly reacted to keeping it under control without freaking out about it and that was a relief. 

“Well I made it through my first practice. Thank fuck for that.”

After finishing the last lap I pulled into the pits and Mr X wandered over. Most of the other racers were still loading their karts onto the trollies so we had time to burn.

“You did really good sweetie.”

I laughed nervously as we lifted my kart on its trolley. 

“Yeah I did ok but my kart didn’t feel right. I kept bogging down in the s bend. I just can’t find my brake line there.” 

After a short break Mr X and I were up again and once more my kart felt floaty around the long corners and thus I couldn’t trust putting my foot down. However I certainly did so when it came to the straights and that was a rush. After my eight laps were up I pulled up into the pits and the other girl in the race (the one I watched in the last race meet) asked me how I found it.

“It’s a little nerve racking. On one hand I want to just go but then other drivers get near me and I freak out!”

“Ha, ha! Yeah I can usually follow my partner around the track and keep up with him but it’s different when there are so many racers on the track!”

“Well your doing really good. Much better than last meet.”

“Thanks! This time I’m managing to keep the kart on the track.”

We exchanged a few more comments whilst we loaded our karts onto their trollies with the help of our partners but then parted ways at the gate. It was cool interacting with another karter like that.

The rest of the day passed fairly quickly and Mr X made adjustments to my kart to improve its cornering. Apparently my track was too wide and so he took a few spacers out of the rear axle. It stopped my kart floating around the corners and improved my confidence tenfold.

“I’m so exhausted. I’m so glad this is the last race for the day.”

So far I’d managed to complete all the laps required of me and hadn’t spun out the kart once. A couple of times my tyres did catch on the camber on the side of the road, almost pulling me off the track but thankfully I kept my kart under control

Mr X laughed and got the starter ready for use.

“Yes it’s nearly over but just remember to have fun out there, okay?”

I gave him a weak smile which was lost on him because of my helmet.

“I will.”

I don’t really remember a lot from that last race other than thinking about hitting the apexes correctly and feeling my kart drift around the corners once my tyres got a bit sticky. I still got passed by all the other karters once but it took them longer to catch me this time.

“That was so nerve racking but at least I know what to expect next time. Oh and I think I need a smaller seat. I definitely move too much in that one.”

“Can do, can do.”

So yeah. I finally did it!

Switch-a-roo

Due to some family commitments this week I took the time off from work. I also figured it was a good time to book my car in to get some panels repainted after discovering last year that the panel beaters had used Direct Gloss instead of Base & Clear when they repaired my car. I was pissed when I found out because they were meant to restore it to “as before the crash” and the rest of my cars paint job is Base & Clear. DG is such a cheap trick and won’t last in the hot Summers here so they are fixing it but honestly, WTF?! If you can’t trust a business to do their job properly what is the world coming to?

So since my car was in the shop I’ve been driving the BF’s 4WD. It’s big, it’s loud and it corners like a bitch. On the plus side it has a big bullbar so if I was to hit a kangaroo front on it won’t dent the car. Good to know when driving in kangaroo country. Parking is a bitch though because I’m short and there’s no reverse camera on the vehicle so mostly I opt to stay far, far away from everyone – no biggie since it’s what I do in my own car to avoid dents and scratches to it – but a couple of times I had to park the 4WD next to someone else which was agonizing cuz I literally couldn’t see the edge of the bullbar or the tow bar for that matter. Good thing I haven’t wiped anything out.

It’s been swell driving the 4WD, people tend to not cut you off and instead give you a wide berth but I miss my own car. Can’t wait to get it back.